Nowadays it is commonplace for a teacher to spend a lot of their own money on items for their classroom. Today, let's brainstorm some ideas of how to get many things that you need for FREE!!
First of all, most schools get a TON of paper for the new year. Why not go into the photocopy room, and take a couple (or 20) of the paper boxes for your own use? Just put the paper either where it goes or where the box was and take the box. These boxes can come in very handy and are quite sturdy.
The same goes for other standard size boxes that come with your school supply orders. You could even save your book order boxes, since they only come in about three different sizes.
OK, you get the idea about different boxes. What else can we find for free?
Well, you've probably already realized how many free worksheets, ideas, lesson plans, and other free resources are available online, so that's a given.
Try finding out what your students' parents do for a living and see if there would be some kind of organizing tool they might be able to send in that they don't need.
Have your students bring in old coffee cups that their families really don't need (those things do multiply like rabbits). Coffee cups can be used to store pens, pencils, paintbrushes, glue sticks, scrap paper, scissors.... They can also be used during craft time to hold water for cleaning paintbrushes or even the paint itself. Be creative!
ALWAYS check the recycle bin by the photocopier and in the staff room for helpful resources. Lots of teachers will recycle something just because it wasn't centred or they were blowing it up on the photocopier. Crop and save!
Many libraries have a discard section of books they are getting rid of. Sometimes you can pick up these books for free or for less than a dollar. I run a library in my church and I have about 10 boxes of books that I want to give away to the Christian school. Most of those books are duplicates, and there is nothing wrong with them.
Calenders. I know they aren't always free, but after you use them, they're either sitting around or recycled. Why not keep them and use the pictures as a resource. Animal pictures for biology, train pictures for transportation units...
Other teachers. I know you can't 'take' another teacher, but talk with them and see what works in their classroom. A lot of their ideas can be adapted for your situation. Also, they might have extra supplies to give to you.
Do you have more ideas to share? Please post them in the comments or email me at OrganizingTeacher at hotmail dot com.